Entertainers, nonprofits and governments declare “Belonging Begins With Us” for Welcoming Week’s virtual kickoff

Atlanta, GA — As the world continues to grapple with the pandemic, climate change, and Afghan refugee crisis, national nonprofit Welcoming America will host a livestream event on Thursday, September 9, 2021 called “#BelongingBeginsWithUs: A Welcoming Week Experience” to celebrate and welcome newcomers in local communities everywhere aiming to foster a deeper sense of belonging for all residents.

The event — which will stream live on Facebook and YouTube — kicks off the annual series of Welcoming Week celebrations happening across the globe from September 10-19. Currently, there are more than 300 virtual and in-person events slated to take place across the nation during Welcoming Week.

This year’s theme is Belonging Begins With Us, an existing national campaign supported by Welcoming America in partnership with the Ad Council and American Immigration Council’s Center for Inclusion and Belonging. Welcoming Week seeks to amplify Belonging Begins With Us by activating local communities to turn the values of welcoming and belonging into actions we can each take.

Rachel Perić, executive director of Welcoming America, says, “The world is watching as communities step forward to welcome newly arriving Afghan families, and to affirm that being a welcoming place for all is something that each of us can play a part in. We’re more inspired than ever to see that in places large and small, rural and urban, people of all backgrounds are doing their part during Welcoming Week and year-round to create places where all of us can play a part in making sure that each of us can belong and thrive in the place we call home.”

“The world is watching as communities step forward to welcome newly arriving Afghan families, and to affirm that being a welcoming place for all is something that each of us can play a part in.” —Rachel Perić

The livestream event will be hosted by Iranian-born American actor and comedian Peter Banifaz and feature special remarks and performance by drag performer Jackie Cox of RuPaul’s Drag Race (Season 12).

Banifaz says: “I’m an immigrant. I know firsthand how difficult it is to transition from one country to another, and from one culture and language to another. Welcoming America is an incredible organization providing resources to immigrant families just like mine, so I’m proud to be involved in this wonderful virtual event and with an inspiring mission.”

Cox says: “I’ve been thinking about what it means to welcome others into this country. Sometimes it can feel like a competition — we don’t necessarily belong here and we have to fight our way in. I have so many friends and new acquaintances from the Middle East who come to this country in the hopes of a better life and future. I’m so honored to carry them and their spirit with me in my drag and celebration of life of joy, and honored to share that with you all for Welcoming Week.”

Additional performances will be delivered by musician Cary Morin, dance group El Corazon de Mexico Ballet Folklorico, the Standing Drums student performing group from Washington University in St. Louis, and the Oakland Interfaith Youth Choir. Stories and poems of immigration, belonging, and welcoming will be delivered by Welcoming America staff and members from the Welcoming Network.

Welcoming Week 2021 is gratefully sponsored by the Decatur Tourism Bureau, Human Resources Dimension, and REACH Healthcare Foundation, and supported by a cadre of national partners and initiatives, including: American Alliance of Museums, The American Exchange Project, American Immigration Council, Cities for Action, Civity, Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Church World Services, Essential Partners, FixUS, I Stand With Immigrants, Kennesaw State University, Listen First Project, Make Music, Mayors Innovation Project, National Partnership for New Americans, New American Economy, Refugee Advocacy Lab, Refugee Congress, Upwardly Global, USAHello, Western States Center, World Education, World Education Services, Y of the USA.

Livestream details

Event name: #BelongingBeginsWithUs: A Welcoming Week Experience

When: Thursday, September 9, 2021 from 6 p.m. Eastern Time

Where: Livestreamed on Facebook Live and YouTube

Registration: Not required

Welcoming Week Events

From Tacoma, Washington to Jacksonville, Florida, the nonprofit and local government members of the Welcoming Network, national partners, and sponsors will host more than 300 virtual and in-person events, ranging from book festivals, bystander intervention training, immigrant artist exhibits, and more. See the full list of events

About Welcoming Week

Welcoming America is proud to lead the growing network of hosts and partners around the United States and world who strive to make their communities a more welcoming place for all. Through Welcoming Week, organizations and communities bring together immigrants, refugees, and long-time residents to build strong connections and affirm the importance of welcoming and inclusive places in achieving collective prosperity.

About Belonging Begins With Us

Belonging Begins With Us is a partnership between the Ad Council and a coalition of partner organizations from across the country. Together, our mission is to create a more welcoming nation where everyone can belong. More than ever, finding points of connection and shared experiences is key to creating strong, supportive communities. We can all play a part in making sure everyone feels like they belong. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

About Welcoming America

Welcoming America leads a movement of inclusive communities becoming more prosperous by making everyone feel like they belong. We believe that all people, including immigrants, are valued contributors and vital to the success of our communities and shared future. Launched in 2009, Welcoming America has spurred a growing movement across the United States and is beginning to scale globally.

Contact: Lola Pak, [email protected]